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Grand Cliff Top Walk Blue Mountains
Photograph: Supplied |NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

45 things to do in Sydney this weekend

All the best ways to make the most of your Friday to Monday

Winnie Stubbs
Edited by
Winnie Stubbs
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Meat lovers, your hour is nigh; Meatstock is popping up this weekend for three days of barbecue-based feasts, bull rides, music and more. If you prefer a plant-based lifestyle, check out the best vegan restaurants in Sydney, or stock up on veggies at  one of the best markets in the city. For a seasonal wardrobe refresh, head to this huge vintage clothes market that’s popping up in Marrickville for one day only, or check out one of the best independent clothing stores in the city. If you’re keen for a dose of culture this weekend, check out this epic summer exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW before it comes to a close; or make your way to White Bay Power Station, this huge industrial landmark has undergone a major transformation for this year’s Biennale of Sydney. Keen to get out of town? Step out into nature on one of these stunning hikes in the Blue Mountains, then enter a magical luminous wonderland at Scenic World’s Nocturnal. Scroll on for our full list of everything you can get up to in Sydney this weekend.

Want a quiet spot to swim? Check out Sydney's best secret swimming spots.

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The best things to do this weekend

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Dawes Point

Ray is a farmer. Ray is dying. Ray is falling in love. Ray has had a tough year. Ray mourns his wife. Ray meets his wife. Ray doesn’t want to live in a nursing home. Ray’s kids don’t understand him. Ray doesn’t understand why the world won’t let him live his life. Ray, played with impressive physicality and nuance by veteran actor Colin Friels, is the central figure of Into the Shimmering World – a new work commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company that makes the intimate epic, seesawing back and forth in time but remaining locked in space. The main arena of conflict is the family farm that Ray and his wife, nurse Floss (fellow veteran Kerry Armstrong) have run their entire adult lives. It’s a hard existence, but a rewarding one, contending with droughts, floods, fluctuating markets, and unruly neighbours (one dubbed “The Crook” remains an unseen presence, but a constant source of grievance).  Written by 2020 Patrick White Playwrights Fellow Angus Cerini and directed by STC’s Director of New Work and Artistic Development Paige Rattray, Into the Shimmering World is a study of Australian masculinity – as were the previous works in Cerini’s Australian gothic trilogy, The Bleeding Tree and Wonnangatta. In many ways this play is a study of stoicism, its strengths and its limitations. The laconic Ray meets every challenge with a resigned determination that borders on fatalism, an attitude that has served him well for decades. But the sons his work put through university don’t want to

  • Things to do
  • Milsons Point

The Harbour City does a good line in immersive light experiences, and if you can’t wait until Vivid takes over the city later in May, Luna Park is here to help. The iconic attraction’s newest installation – Sonic Neon – will be opening to the public from Saturday, April 13, and tickets are on sale now. Housed in Crystal Palace – a building which dates all the way back to 1935 – Sonic Neon will take visitors on a journey through six different rooms, with state-of-the-art visuals and a layered soundscape creating a transportive experience. Illuminating more than 150 metres of the historic building, the experience will feature more than 26,000 lights set to a pulsating soundtrack using state-of-the-art technology that’s never been used before in Australia. Tickets to the event are available now, and first release ticket holders will be afforded access to what Luna Park has described as a “secret zone”. Details about this mystery “Blacklight Dessert Bar” are thin on the ground, but Luna Park has confirmed: “Visitors will be able to purchase glow-in-the-dark desserts including custom treats by Sydney’s famous Tokyo Lamington along with glowing fairy floss and soft serve ice cream.” The experience will run daily from 10am for approximately four months, though the exact end date is yet to be announced. Tickets for the self-guided Sonic Neon experience (estimated to take around 30 minutes) start at $29 per person, and the first month of tickets are on sale now. If you’re keen to secu

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Sydney

Whether arriving via a luxurious water taxi or taking a leisurely stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, the journey to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is as picturesque as the setting itself. Each year, a vibrant theatrical hub emerges, complete with a five-storey pop-up bar and dining venue with a variety of offerings, ranging from cheerful pizzas, hotdogs and pies to decadent three-course feasts. This annual event embodies the very essence of spectacle, and this year's performance of West Side Story (which makes an anticipated return to Mrs Macquries Chair after its 2019 debut) wows us while compelling us to wrestle with the stark relevance of its themes, both to Australia’s own history and the turf wars at play globally. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical masterpiece West Side Story debuted on Broadway in 1957 and most recently got the Hollywood treatment by Steven Speilberg, to seven Oscar nominations. It’s a modern take on Shakepeare’s well-known tale of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, set in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, during the 1950s. The Jets, a gang of All-American boys, are in a turf war with the Sharks, the new Puerto Rican immigrants on the block. When Maria (Nina Korbe) – the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (Manuel Stark Santos) – and Tony (Billy Bourchier), a former Jet, lock eyes at the local dance, the rivalries escalate. You might assume that the open-air ambiance would diminish the impact of the ove

  • Art
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney

Are you ready to chase artistic escapades around the city? The Biennale of Sydney is back for its 24th edition from March 9 to June 10, 2024. Whether you’re a dedicated arts fanatic or a casual culture buff, you’ll find something to inspire and provoke you along this epic art trail. The largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, the Biennale is taking over six different locations with awe-inspiring installations and intriguing exhibitions. Titled Ten Thousand Suns, this year the festival explores a multiplicity of global cultures, taking on a transgressive spirit as it leans into the origins of Carnivale. As always, the Biennale is free for everyone to visit for a total of 16 weeks.   Of all the locations, White Bay Power Station is absolutely the main character of the Biennale’s 50th year anniversary (and 24th iteration – it takes place every second year). This is the first time the revitalised industrial site will officially open its doors to the public in more than 100 years – and what they’ve accomplished is pretty spectacular. Years of accumulated pigeon poop has been cleared out of the enormous factory spaces, making way for art installations that tower multiple storeys high, and more works hidden in various nooks and crannies. Pop-up bars and brand new bathrooms also set the stage for a packed program of live performances and music curated by Phoenix Central Park. Think of White Bay as a replacement for the role that Cockatoo Island has played in Sydney’s

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  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Moore Park

If you’ve exhausted your itinerary of school holiday fun and don’t want to resort to another beach or movie trip just to keep the kids away from screens, then you’re in luck. Sydney Kidz Fest is rolling into town this April with plenty to entertain the little ones, and grown-ups can tag along too.  Heading to the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park from April 13-28, this family-friendly festival is pulling out all the stops. Let the wriggly ones burn off any pent-up energy on the dodgem cars or any of the thrilling carnival rides on offer. Treat them to a post-ride sweet treat which you’ll find in the lineup of showbags or try your hand at winning prizes by playing a classic carnival game. Spend hours cooing over barnyard baby animals at the Animal Nursery, an adorable experience perfect for kids too small for the rides.  A special performance is on for the Paw Patrol fans as the beloved characters take to the stage twice daily, plus, win major brownie points with the kids at the lunchtime meet and greet where they can snap a picture up close and personal with their favourite characters, Chase and Marshall.  Entry tickets cost $10 for children, $20 for adults or $50 for a family of four. Pick up 24 coupons for $50 that you can use on rides or games, or grab the all-ages Unlimited Rider wristband, which is great value at just $40 and entitles you to three hours of non-stop rides. Book your tickets early now so you don’t miss out.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darling Harbour

This is it, we have found the yassification of Shakespeare. Fuelled by a playlist of certified pop hits, this jukebox romp billed as “the greatest love story ever remixed” poses a simple but provocative question: What if, instead of joining Romeo in eternal slumber, Juliet decided to live? A contagiously joyous musical spectacular, & Juliet has finally landed at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre after being met with critical acclaim on Broadway and the West End, not to mention the rapturously received Australian debut in Melbourne.  Filled with sing-a-long-able chart-topping bangers made famous by the likes of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and more from the songbook of Grammy-winning Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin, the Aussie cast is overflowing with talent in this feel-good, flashy production. & Juliet is Shakespeare remixed for the girls, the gays and the theys... [but does it] really cut it as the feminist reclamation that we are promised? Will you be entertained? Absolutely. Does & Juliet set a new standard for jukebox musicals? Yes. Will you see one of the most diverse and charismatic casts of triple-threats ever assembled on an Australian stage? Heck yeah. Does the story deliver on the feminist retribution we are promised? Not quite. “What if Juliet didn’t kill herself?” Anne Hathaway (played by the enthralling Amy Lehpamer) posits to her husband, William Shakespeare (the ever-charming Rob Mills). “She’s only ever had one boyfriend, and frankly, the endi

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • Sydney

Slide into your glass slippers and prepare for a feast that will leave you feeling happily ever after. Sydney's whimsical and innovative fine dining favourite, Nel, has announced the fifth chapter of its hugely-popular, Disney-themed degustation, and this iteration is pulling out all the stops. Cruella de Vil, we’re looking at you. Once Upon a Time is an eleven-course degustation inspired by chef/owner Nelly Robinson’s favourite Disney classics. While Robinson aims to surprise guests during their dining experience at Nel, we do have some of the magical details about what’s in store for the fifth chapter. Strap in. First up is a dish inspired by the film Mulan called ‘Lucky Cricket.’ Think: a purple puffed prawn toast with a theatrical chicken and eggplant pastry baked in a crisp tulle ‘wand’. Next, Robinson has created a Frozen-themed course featuring Nordic-style cured ocean trout with a pickled onion snowflake, cream cheese snow, and a lemon and dill dusting done tableside. Cruella de Vil gets her moment with a dish consisting of black and white ricotta gnocchi, pan-seared mushrooms, and finished with a celeriac velouté (a type of soup). Dessert will spotlight The Jungle Book with a sweet treat called ‘King Louie,’ featuring a banana-shaped cream with roasted white chocolate and peanut butter brittle (yum). Plus, there’s a dessert inspired by Peter Pan called ‘The Pixie Hollow’ – a fairy dust made from golden, sweet pastry crumble. Robinson said: “I am taking our diners on

  • Museums
  • Science
  • Darling Harbour

Discover the hidden marvels of marine life and the remarkable woman who paved the way to better understanding marine conservation at Valerie Taylor: An Underwater Life. This free homegrown exhibition is more than just a tribute to one of the world’s most celebrated underwater storytellers, shark researchers and conservationists. It’s a call to action for all environmental enthusiasts and future changemakers to protect our beautiful oceans, their animals and their habitats from further threat. Dive straight into 60 years worth of stories as told through objects and ephemera donated by Valerie and her husband Ron Taylor, including cameras and underwater housings, Valerie’s iconic blue fins and dive suits, and the stainless-steel chainmail suit she wore to get up close and personal with sharks. You can also admire Hollywood movie posters from the past fifty years, including Jaws and The Island of Dr Moreau, plus more than 500 images from the Maritime Museum’s collection of animals, people and places now under threat.   Valerie Taylor: An Underwater Life is one of the headline exhibitions in the Maritime Museum’s summer program and will run until August 31, 2024. Be sure to catch the other special exhibitions while you’re there including Ocean Photographer of the Year. For more information on the exhibition head here. 

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Sydney

For many of us, our first introduction to The Rocky Horror Show involved a beaten up VHS tape and an exhilarating brew of conflicting feelings about Tim Curry’s iconic fishnet-stocking-clad role as Frank-N-Furter – the cross-dressing mad scientist alien from Transsexual, Transylvania. Beyond its immortalisation in the cult classic 1975 film, this rollicking rock’n’roll musical has been continuously on a stage somewhere in the world ever since it premiered to a small London audience in 1973 – and while today’s slick mainstage productions are a far cry from its grungy roots, there’s still no denying the appeal of doing ‘The Time Warp’ again. After touring around the country, Australia’s 50th anniversary production of Rocky Horror has taken a jump to the left (and a step to the right) to land back at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, about a year after it premiered at the same venue in the same month as Sydney WorldPride, with a couple of notable cast changes this time. It appears that the time on the road has done this company a world of good; the cast take to the stage with a more relaxed and playful energy as they tackle this risqué, silly, borderline-pantomime musical.  Former Australian of the Year and Paralympian Dylan Alcott is a delight to witness in his stage acting debut as The Narrator. With good humour, an ability to roll with the punches, and an injection of signature charm, Alcott nails the difficult-to-pin-down prerequisites to fill this role. The Narrator must be someone a

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • price 2 of 4
  • Sydney

What would you do if you were struggling to afford to pay your rent, gas, and electricity bills, only to discover that you’ve been priced out of paying for basic groceries too? When the quick-witted Antonia (the prolific actor Mandy McElhinney – who, yes, is also “Rhonda” from those insurance ads) and her fellow weary housewives discover that prices at the local supermarket have doubled overnight, their shopping run erupts into a revolt. The women begin to loot – or, as Antonia would describe it, “liberate” – food off the shelves. When the excitement is over, Antonia finds herself back home with a random assortment of fruits and vegetables, dog food (she doesn’t own a dog), canary pellets (she doesn’t own a canary) and rabbit heads. She enlists the help of her neighbour Margherita (Emma Harvie) to hide the stolen goods from her moralist husband Giovanni (Glenn Hazeldine), a staunch unionist who’s a stickler for rules and due process. The supermarket riot sets a ripple effect of absurdity in motion, ranging from a briny phantom pregnancy with added  “womb olives”, to an unconscious cop with a flatulence problem – and that’s just the highlights.  ...simultaneously leaves you wheezing from laughter and slightly deaf from the roars of others No Pay? No Way! is two hours and twenty minutes of comedic gold. Marieke Hardy’s laugh-out-loud political satire initially premiered with Sydney Theatre Company in February 2020, before it was plagued by lockdowns. But with the way that the

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